Earth, Water, Air, Fire

Earth, Water, Air, Fire

The Four Elements and Architecture

Josep Lluis Mateo, Florian Sauter


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Forced to interact with the natural elements that invigorate a built structure and co-determine a building’s experiential reality during construction, one ought to keep in mind their brute powers – earth’s crushing heaviness, the erratic character of water, air’s thermo-dynamic cataclysms, or the dangerous benignity of fire. Affective in a direct way, they act as guiding principles in the process of realization: While the earth targets the foundations, the roof shields from water, the openings control the flow of air, and the walls protect from the gleaming sun.


Josep Lluis Mateo:
Josep Lluis Mateo is architect since 1974; PhD (cum laude) since 1994 at the UPC-Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, and Professor of Architecture and Design at ETH Zurich. His work has been extensively published and exhibited, most recently at the MoMA (New York, 2006), the Pavillon de l’Arsenal (Paris, 2009), the Glyptotheque (Athens, 2010), the Central House of Artists (Moscow, 2011) and La Galerie de l’Architecture (Paris, 2013).|||Florian Sauter is an Austrian architect working in Basel and teaching at ETH Zurich since 2006. PhD in 2010, and co-editor of Natural Metaphor (2007), Iconoclastia (2009) and Expression (2012).